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‘Likable’ may not translate to votes in this mayoral race

Commentary: Politically Aware

“You’re likable enough” was then candidate Obama’s comment about his opponent, Sen. Hillary Clinton. Whether he meant it or not, he was factually wrong. In 2008, Clinton’s likability didn’t translate into enough votes to win the presidency. Recent events in the 2012 race for San Diego mayor suggest that another likable politician, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, could have a tougher track to victory than previously thought.

With state Sen. Christine Kehoe’s June announcement that she won’t run, there are four major players in the mayoral race. U.S. Representative Bob Filner is the lone Democrat, with City Councilmember Carl DeMaio, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and California Assemblymember Nathan Fletcher crowding the Republican field. Don’t be fooled by the technically true coverage that this is a non-partisan race. Last week Jess Durfee, the chairman of the County Democratic Party, sent a memo threatening to pull money from any elected official endorsing a Republican for mayor. His Republican counterpart has done the same.

KGTV and Survey USA released a poll last month showing DeMaio leading the pack with 22 percent of the vote, followed by Dumanis at 15 percent, Filner at 14 percent and Fletcher at 7 percent. Only 14 percent of voters were undecided, but the poll included state Sen. Christine Kehoe (12 percent) and Councilmember Kevin Faulconer (6 percent), both of whom passed on the race. If Steve Francis (4 percent) stays out, a total of 36 percent of voters will still be looking for someone to back.

In his work on the 2012 Presidential Republican primary, statistician and blogger Nate Silver of the New York Times has looked to see how early data on name recognition, partisan affiliation and ideology and favorability ratings affect the final vote. Applying a similar eye to the mayoral data and accounting for Kehoe’s departure brings the race in to focus.

When Dumanis announced her candidacy, some thought she might win in the primary. Called “the most popular politician in San Diego,” her broad appeal included Democrats and Independents. In a January 2011 poll, she had a 31 percent favorability rating, with only 16 percent viewing her unfavorably. While Donna Frye actually had a higher favorability, Dumanis’ 15 percent “net favorability” (favorability minus unfavorability) was the best for any candidate tested.

Those numbers should be good for Dumanis, but her favorability isn’t turning into votes yet. Combined with her 15 percent June vote share, it suggests that not everyone who likes her is voting for her. The best explanation may be a lack of support from her own party. Only 12 percent of Republicans and 13 percent of conservatives are voting for Dumanis, not much better than Filner, a Democrat (10 percent and 11 percent). Dumanis does lead Republicans in support from Democrats and liberals but she will need to win a large percentage of the currently undecided voters to make it through the primary.

One reason Dumanis may be having trouble with Republicans is DeMaio, who has the largest share of the conservative (31 percent) and Republican vote (33 percent). While he leads the field at 22 percent, he may also have the least room to grow within his favorability. DeMaio’s favorability rating was 27 percent, suggesting most of those who like DeMaio are already voting for him. DeMaio’s unfavorability was only 17 percent, and 34 percent still had no opinion of him but given the high profile he has taken on the budget, and the rhetoric from his supporters and detractors, it wouldn’t be surprising to see DeMaio’s unfavorables increase on the next poll. Still, his 22 percent may be the most solid number in the poll, and if his Tea Party supporters (44 percent) are as energized as they were in 2010, they may be more likely voters as well.

Nathan Fletcher is the biggest wild card. Entering the race later than DeMaio and Dumanis, he has only 7 percent of the vote, but 20 percent of voters viewed him favorably, and 70 percent of voters were neutral or undecided about him. He needs to catch fire, but a good debate performance or the right issue could allow him to surge.

Like Dumanis, Congressman Filner has a significant gap between his 30 percent January favorability and his 14 percent support. That gap, though, may have been named Kehoe, who was the leading choice for Democrats and liberals. If these voters move to Filner, expect his numbers to surge in the next poll as he consolidates the Democratic vote. Less clear is where else Filner will find voters. Only 21 percent of voters are neutral on him, and 19 percent have no opinion, both numbers being the lowest in the poll for declared candidates.

The money primary is just beginning, where Dumanis should do well with her endorsements and establishment support. But if Filner can pull together the Democrats and liberals, his support could easily get into the mid-30s. DeMaio’s share will likely only increase, particularly given the enthusiasm of his supporters. If he can get near 30 percent, Dumanis will need to best Fletcher for almost all the voters in the middle, or risk being another likable candidate who didn’t make the general election.



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Posted by LGBT Weekly on Jul 7, 2011. Filed under Bottom Highlights, Politically Aware. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

2 Comments for “‘Likable’ may not translate to votes in this mayoral race”

  1. San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has persecuted sick and dying medical marijuana patients and has made numerous bad decision in charging innocent people with felonies. Dumanis has failed her constituents and does not use due diligence in researching cases that she takes to trial.

    Dumanis has a bad habit of protecting her rich friends and cronies but not doing anything else for the rest of the people in San Diego. She is not qualified or ethically-equipped to even consider running for Mayor of San Diego. Please become enlightened and JUST SAY NO TO DUMANIS!

    Sign petition to pledge your opposition here: http://www.change.org/petitions/sign-the-petition-pledge-to-not-vote-or-support-bonnie-dumanis-for-mayor-in-2012

  2. Psych 101 student

    Let’s face it: Even though your girl Bonnie is breaking all kinds of new ground running for Mayor: SHE JUST IS NOT LIKABLE ENOUGH!

    More like: charmless, ruthlessly ingratiating to those that can help her and terrifyingly persecuting to the weak and vulnerable among us (i.e. medical marijuana victims.) Bonnie lacks wit, warmth, and a welcoming persona. She is nothing more than a political lackey and troll who seeks power to boost up her own flagging self-respect and self-esteem.

    I will state something now that SHOULD alarm the lesbians out there:
    BONNIE DUMANIS IS A SELF-LOATHING FEMALE! She suffered the rejection of her authoritarian, emotionally-cold cop father in her youth and has since struggled to come to grips with just who she is. But I do believe that she sees females as less than worthy compared to males and this causes her to make disasterous charging decisions in the D.A.’s office.

    Bonnie Dumanis needs to seek the services of a good psycho-therapist to help guide her sub-conscious and alight on why Bonnie Dumanis is a SELF-LOATHING and SELF-CONTEMPTUOUS lesbian. She should seek to make peace with her past and come to grips with exactly who she is. A proper professional can help erase the churning tensions within that cause such negative, unattractive, and ultimately self-defeating actions in Bonnie Dumanis and perhaps even discover the reason why she seeks to always cultivate & covet MORE POWER! It is a very “unlikable” quality in her.

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